The front rim on my existing wheel was beginning to separate just slightly after only 2000 miles. This separation was resulting in loud and squeaky brakes. So I began searching online for custom bicycle wheel builders. The Mavic 717 with DT Swiss 240s hub was not my first choice. In fact I originally had the idea that now was the time to switch to 650c wheels as my bike will work fine with either. The problem with going to 650c wheels would be locking into the 23mm 650c tire options.
So I began investigating tires from a ride comfort and cost standpoint. I somehow convinced myself that I wanted to run the 650c version of the Continental Grand Prix 4000 with the black chilli compound. While there are some people who do not like these tires the vast majority of reviews I read online are positive. Another advantage to running these tires is I could shave 40 to 50 grams off my already lightweight Schwalbe Durano tires which are about 250 grams. I have the folding version at 1.1 and not the wire bead.
So armed with my new desire to own 650c's I began requesting quotes from Wheel Builders and for some reason I had it in my head that I could do this for about $500. After all I'm not looking for the absolute best, just good all around wheels for my recreational rides. What I discovered as I began digging into the wheel options was this was not going to be as easy as I thought. For starters in this price range for 650c wheels, there are actually very few rim options. The choices came down to Mavic, Velocity, and one or two others I was not very familiar with. I convinced myself that the Velocity Aerohead was the way to go because of petty good reviews, and low weight at 390 grams per rim. I also liked the idea of a rear wheel with an offset rim to increase the strength of the drive side and reduce spoke tension. To me it just makes sense that a wheel that is dished would be better served with an off center design.
So I had my rim selection made. They needed to make a decision about hubs. In the $500 price range you can immediately rule out Chris King and Phil Wood, and DT Swiss 240s' (Or so I thought with the DT Swiss that I'll get to in just a bit). This left me with velocity road hubs were Shimano 105's, possibly last year's Ultegra, or lesser. When trying to decide which hubs to select I also needed to consider the weight of the hub. Velocity road hubs are among the lightest, but I was concerned about the quality of the bearings and how long they will last. So back to the bike forums I went to read up on velocity hubs. As it turns out velocity hugs are manufactured by formula a Taiwanese company with a decent reputation. So so while not completely sold I figure they're probably good enough for my needs. The Shimano hubs are quality but almost twice the weight and not sealed cartridges. There is no problem with Shimano, I just wanted to go a bit lighter for this wheel build as I wanted to keep the rotational mass down for faster accelerations and easier climbing.
So now I needed to do was select the spokes. Should I run with 28, 32, or 36 spokes. I wanted double butted spokes to increase the strength but again keep the weight down. I decided to go all in with Sapim CX-Ray because not only are they the lightest and strongest spokes, they are also the most aero dynamic I could choose.
So my decision had been made... Velocity Aerohead, Velocity Road hubs, and Sapim CX-Ray spokes. All I needed was a Wheel builder. I found a great one in Epic Wheel Works in Portland Oregon... good price, good reputation. Unfortunately even with my mid-range selections by the time I purchased new tires, and had the wheels built and shipped I would be over $600. And that just isn't in the budget right now.
So I needed another option. I considered the Bicycle Wheel Warehouse stock build with Mavic Open Road, Last Years Ultegra Hubs, and DT Swiss double butted spokes. Good price at $300 plus tax and shipping with upgraded spokes. The problem is I was just not convinced I wanted extra 250 grams of weight. So I shot off an email to Bicycle Wheel Warehouse with a couple of basic questions waiting to hear back and deciding yes at this price maybe I'll just do it. But I never heard back and that led me to more searching and that led me to Colorado Cyclist.
And as I was viewing their Wheel Builds I was surprised to see they are using the DT 240s hubs in their 559 mountain bike wheels at a price which most other online bike retailers are selling just the 240s hubs. And the price was just too good for me to pass up on based on my needs and the fact that I really only need to replace the front wheel. So I decided to stick with the mountain bike sized tires and wheels.
So I called up Colorado Cyclist and talk to their customer service sales department and I ordered the wheel with the Mavic 717 in black, DT Swiss 240s, and DT Swiss Revolution double butted spokes. The entire cost including build and shipping was almost dead on $225. Again most places are almost that much just for the DT Swiss 240s hub. So all I can assume is Colorado Cyclist is is selling so much DT Swiss that they're getting excellent volume pricing which allows them to build at this price point. In any case I'm very happy with the purchase.
As soon as I received the wheel I pop my old mountain bike upside down and dropped the wheel in the front fork. I gave the wheel a good hard spin and and checked for true against the brake pads. The true of the will was spot on I could hardly detect even perhaps a 1 mm at the most lateral play and it doesn't even look like that much. The next thing I did was look for the round true, so again I spun the wheel and the will is extremely close to being perfectly round. Mavic has a reputation for shipping pretty true rims that are fairly easy to build. The final thing I did was slightly tweak each of the spokes with my finger now see if they sounded the same and they did. Because I don't have a spoke tension tool I can't major the tension. Because the sound of each spoke is about the same I can assume the tension is pretty equal across the wheel. All in all this is a very nice we'll build at a very good price and if it fits your budget you should definitely consider Colorado Cyclist.
Note: I had no prior relationship with Colorado Cyclist, and I am not being compensated for this review.
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